Markets in flux, lasers steady
Global financial markets have continued their tumultuous ways, so it's reassuring that photonics in general, and especially lasers, have followed steadier paths for growth and integration into a multitude of products and applications.
Global financial markets have continued their tumultuous ways, so it's reassuring that photonics in general, and especially lasers, have followed steadier paths for growth and integration into a multitude of products and applications. As our annual Laser Market Review & Forecast reports in this issue, total global laser sales should increase by 4.2% in 2016, reaching $10.5 billion (see page 48). Each segment of the laser market faces its own dynamics, of course, with lasers for materials processing and lithography the largest, followed by communications and optical storage and R&D and military. The medical segment has been experiencing very interesting developments and resilient growth.
To start off 2016, we have some interesting developments of our own in this issue. First, we have a preview of SPIE Photonics West in San Francisco (February 13-18), which will host over 20,000 attendees, 1250 exhibitors, and 4800 technical presentations (see page 73). The three virtual symposia look of particular interest: Green Photonics, Translational Research, and 3D Printing. Furthering the theme of green photonics, solar analyst Finlay Colville contributes an article on a significant new market opportunity for laser suppliers in the photovoltaic manufacturing industry (see page 43).
Two series of articles continue this month. Contributing editor Jeff Hecht's Photonic Frontiers begins the year with an exploration of color measurement and its impact on LED lighting and more (see page 79). And senior editors John Wallace and Gail Overton put a monthly focus on photonics products—this month, the topic is specialty fibers for sensing (see page 83).
Finally, I must note that last year, Laser Focus World celebrated our 50th anniversary. This year, The Optical Society (OSA) celebrates its 100th. In honor of that event, we have a monthly column interviewing leaders in optics and photonics to get both a personal perspective on their life in their field and to consider future technology developments. This month, Alan Willner, OSA president, talks about how he entered the field of optical communications and where it is headed (see page 41). Happy Birthday, OSA!
W. Conard Holton
Editor in Chief